There is always much fanfare when Dulux and Pantone release their colours of the year shortly before Christmas. This time it was Brave Ground for the former – a sort of greyish mud that was instantly polarising as everyone demanded uplifting colours given the year they had just been through, not realising that Dulux picks it, not just as a colour for your walls, but as a reflection of where it thinks society is at the given moment. And this year, it said, we were taking stock and building on a solid foundation hence the colour of the ground. However, the fury was as nothing compared with the outrage that greeted the two colours chosen by Pantone – Ultimate Grey and Illuminating – basically the dullest grey you can imagine (and I write as one who has written an entire book singing the praises of this versatile shade) and lemon yellow. It was meant, said the company, to be about the light at the end of the tunnel. Humph said the world while instagram posted endless pictures of double yellow lines on roads.
But there is another, quieter, perhaps more realistic way to look at the colours that may be popular in the months ahead and that’s via the paint company Little Greene. Every now and then they release a tonal colour card – so far we have have seen green, blue and pink. This year, among the pile of post that landed with a thud on the doormat the other day – no doubt held up by the glut of Christmas shopping – was their new Stone collection.
A palette of soft neutrals developed in conjunction with the National Trust (a long time collaborator) this collection feels perfect for now. The warm neutrals that have been trailed for several months, punctuated with bursts of soft, yet intense, shades to pep it all up a little.
Never mind shades of mud and tarmac, this is what feels right for now. I wrote, during one of the lockdowns ( I forget which) that staying at home for months on end might lead to a desire for calming warm colours that make us feel safe and comfortable. Or course there will always be those who prefer a high energy colour scheme but when there’s a lot of noise in my head I need something restful to gaze at.
This is that palette. But it’s not just shades of cream, brown and beige, there is green, tones of burgundy and pink and warm bronze colours that all work together to provide a look that is both classic and modern. The card consists of 36 colours of which 22 are new and 14 have been chosen from the existing archive.
It has been further divided into six “families” each with a different undertone; based on naturally occurring pigments; Red Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber, Lamp Black and Green Earth making the choices much simpler. Simply pick a line and select as many colours as you wish knowing they will all go together.
You can, of course, cross families, to create combinations which are a little more contrasting and dynamic if that is your wish. Ruth Mottershead, the creative director of Little Greene, says the collection is timely.
“Our households have become our haven, whether working or relaxing we are all spending an increased amount of time at home. We are searching for interiors that are comforting, which is driving the desire to create cocooning, cosy spaces – the colours of stone are indefinably beautiful, so pleasing to the eye and soothing for the soul.
“There is a shift away from cooler greys towards warmer hues and the warm neutrals that the Stone palette provides are perfect for creating restful living spaces, whilst absolutely attaining elegance in both contemporary and classical settings. This is not about a return to beige or magnolia, it’s about using these new neutrals to create interiors that are smart and inviting.”
And that works perfectly for me. What about you?